I don’t usually respond to comments on my posts, or get defensive about people who challenge or contradict my advice - but in cases where someone is telling my audience that my advice is “quite misinformed” and not to take or spread it, then goes on to share misinformation themselves, I think I have a responsibility to respond. I have also turned off replies from people I don’t follow, because I would prefer not to have information attached to my content that I don’t stand behind.

From a reply to my post about herpes:

As someone who actually has herpes and a former sex worker, this answer is actually quite misinformed. I have attempted to message the person and advise them otherwise, but it is all blocked off or there is extreme limitations. Do not reblog this. You need to speak to a sexual health doctor. Most regular doctors dont take herpes seriously. There is also no test for herpes. You can only get tested once you have an outbreak. (You can be blood tested, however most doctors will tell you it is not possible) additionally, it is also extremely painful especially for women, meaning every time you urinate, you pee acid all over the sores. I have gone to the toilet and screamed in complete agony. I’ve gone to doctors who just laugh at me and refuse to help me because there is “nothing else they can do."Also, condoms and antiviral medication do not prevent the spread of herpes, as i have infected my own husband while using both. Additionally, you are mistreated, bullied and abused by people and the media for having herpes. Partners leave over it, some people even refuse to be your friend. Its horrible. As someone in a polyamorous relationship, you need to seek advice from a sexual health clinic, and preferably avoid herpes out of respect for your husbands health :)

First: It is quite easy to contact me through the two channels I have available: messaging me via tumblr or emailing me at polyamoryadvice at gmail dot com. It is impossible to contact the people who message me through my blog, because I publish everything anonymously. This is how almost all advice columns work.

Second: I explicitly say “this is something you need to talk to a healthcare provider about.” I am not sure what you mean by “sexual health doctor” - but my answer includes recommendations for Planned Parenthood and “a sexual health clinic.” I also said that the person with herpes might need to do extra legwork to find the right healthcare professional. I believe I provided safe, useful information about whether the people in question should see a doctor, and what kind of doctor.

Third: There absolutely is a test for herpes when there are no symptoms. It is a blood test. You can read about it here and here. This blood test is not part of the standard STI screening, but it is entirely possible for this person who is concerned about her possible exposure to herpes to request that test. Please do not tell people that there is no test for herpes - I stand by my continued stance that poly people should get frequent STI screenings. 

Fourth: Condoms and antiviral medication do help prevent the spread of herpes. Condoms are not 100%, but they reduce the risk, especially when it comes to preventing women from getting the virus from male partners. While antiviral drugs are not a 100% sure bet, they are effective at reducing the risk of transmission. You can read about one study here. I am sorry to hear that your husband got the virus from you - but one anecdote is not a good reason to disavow advice about safe, effective, and useful methods like barriers and medications.

Fifth: I believe I did advise the person writing me to “preferably avoid herpes.” They asked me for tips about preventing risk to their other partners, and for advice about disclosure within the network, and I did my best to give them that advice. I try to answer the questions people ask, not push them toward what I think is best for them from my perspective. I do not believe it is my place to tell this person to immediately cease their relationship with their partner who has herpes.

Sixth: I am sorry to hear that you have faced bullying and abuse. Herpes is unfortunately stigmatized in today’s society. I tried to do my part to fight that stigma in my column by treating herpes not as a death knell for that relationship or a Terrible Monster To Be Afraid Of, but a medical concern approachable with the right healthcare and communication. I did mention that the partner with herpes might need to take some extra effort to find the right doctor. I linked the OJST comic on herpes because I think it does a good job breaking down some of the myths, and the article on asymptomatic testing because it also discusses the anxiety and stigma surrounding herpes. But the person writing to me did not ask about the potential consequences of contracting herpes, and I feel like I would have actually contributed to the stigma by focusing on the fear aspect when it wasn’t mentioned in the original letter.